KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Robinson Cano continued his dominance against the Houston Astros on Wednesday to keep Seattle’s playoff hopes alive.
Cano hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Mariners kept pressure on the other AL wild-card contenders with a 12-4 win over the Astros.
Kyle Seager added another three-run drive in the eighth, his 30th home run this season, as Seattle remained two games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild card. Houston dropped 3½ games back as its magic number for elimination was cut to one.
“If you want to help your starter, you’ve got to start early and also put pressure on the other team,” Cano said. “That’s what we did today.”
Cano’s career-best 36th home run, a drive off Doug Fister (12-13), landed in the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field. Cano has nine homers and 25 RBIs in 19 games against Houston this season.
“Huge home run early by Robbie really got everybody relaxed a little bit,” manager Scott Servais said. “Everybody contributed today … everybody had to contribute and we’re still alive.”
Seattle doubled its lead in the second on Nori Aoki’s RBI single and Seth Smith’s two-run single. Ketel Marte made it 7-0 with a run-scoring infield single in the third.
James Paxton (6-7) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings, striking out eight.
Fister gave up five runs and five hits over 1 1/3 innings in the shortest start of his big league career. Fister has lost five straight decisions, and Houston has lost his last seven starts — all five innings or fewer.
“Getting into the game was very difficult for him,” Hinch said. “His command wasn’t great. He didn’t execute the way he does when he’s good.”
George Springer hit a solo home run in the third for the Astros, who closed to 7-4 in the sixth on Evan Gattis’ solo homer.
Since the Astros are off Thursday, if the Orioles win their next two games, Houston could be eliminated by the time it takes the field on Friday.
“I’m not ready for that,” Hinch said. “This is not a position that we’re happy to be in, but it’s a position that we are in.”
The game was the final broadcast for the Astros’ Bill Brown, who is retiring after 30 seasons with the team. It was also the last game for Tal’s Hill in Minute Maid Park. The Astros will renovate the ballpark this offseason, and the center-field fence will be moved in.
Servais was impressed with the work of reliever Evan Scribner, who took over with two on and no outs in the sixth inning and got the Mariners out of a jam. He allowed one hit and no runs in two innings for his third hold this season.
“He’s been awesome probably about the last 10, 11 times out,” Servais said. “But you have those days where it just didn’t look good and it was time to go to Scrib and he certainly picked us up today.”
Mariners: LHP Ariel Miranda (5-2) will start the first of a four-game series Thursday against Oakland. Miranda will be making his 12th appearance and will be looking to rebound after giving up three runs in four innings Saturday at Minnesota.
Astros: Brad Peacock (0-0) will start for Houston on Friday when it opens a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. It will be the fifth start this season for Peacock, who has a 2.67 ERA.
AP freelancer Jeremy Rakes contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)